How excited is Rep. Raul Labrador to see one of his House GOP brethren, Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan, on the presidential ticket?
Judge for yourself.
“I think Mitt Romney just won the election on Saturday,” Labrador, R-Idaho, told the Statesman editorial board.
If so, we’re going to see something that hasn’t happened in my lifetime. Or Labrador’s. Or Ryan’s, for that matter.
The history just doesn’t suggest a running mate can win a presidential election. Or even lose one: In other words, I see your Sarah Palin and raise you Dan Quayle.
History instead suggests that the buzz and the backlash over Ryan will fade into the background.
Which means that another prediction about Romney’s selection will likely fall by the wayside as well: the notion that putting the chairman of the House Budget Committee on the ticket will elevate this campaign to a substantive and overdue debate about the debt and spending priorities.
I hope it happens. It’s what our country needs.
There’s obviously plenty in Ryan’s record to debate.
There’s his own paper trail — such as his budget blueprint, which passed the GOP-controlled House in March on a party-line vote. And there is Ryan’s lesser-known work on a deficit reduction commission assembled by none other than President Barack Obama. Twelve of the 18 members of this bipartisan commission voted for a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases — a $4 trillion blueprint authored by former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., and former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, voted for this plan; Ryan opposed it.
So, yes, we could debate about whether Ryan represents the conservative wing of the GOP’s most cutting-edge thinker on fiscal matters — or whether he is a partisan hardliner who would cut too heavily from social programs and does not have the ability to forge or accept bipartisan compromise.
We could debate all of that.
But history shows that presidential elections take their tone from the top person on the ticket — and that the focus, appropriately enough, falls to the top dog.
Will things be different in 2012? If they are, this truly will be a change election.